Taking part in the Manx Telecom End2End Challenge has inspired one competitor to create a scheme which could produce a whole new generation of cyclists. Gary Pierce is owner of Hopes & Dreams which runs three nurseries on the Island, in Ramsey, Douglas and Castletown. He takes up the story: “I started mountain biking a few years ago and attempted the End2End for the first time in 2012. I didn’t finish, but learned from the experience, prepared for the event much better the following year and finished the full distance. I thoroughly enjoyed it and the fun I had – combined with the experience of teaching my own children to cycle – gave me the idea to set up a scheme to help our Hopes & Dreams nursery children to learn to ride a bike. On our ‘Fast Track Learn To Ride Scheme’ children will be taught to cycle with the aim of all children at the nursery being able to ride before they are old enough to start school. Cycling has widely recognised benefits as a healthy form of exercise, so it ties-in perfectly with Hopes & Dreams’ mission to create happy children and positive futures. This includes looking after their health and wellbeing and research shows that if children develop good habits regarding exercise it can bring long term health benefits which last a lifetime.”
Under the learn to ride scheme children move from riding trikes with pedals to using balance bikes – the latter being basic machines without pedals or brakes that are designed specifically to make it easier for children to learn. Youngsters ride them (under adult supervision) by just pushing the bike along with their feet and getting used to balancing the machine. It means that they can develop balancing and steering skills before going on to learn how to pedal and brake – with a normal bike children have to try and learn to balance, steer, pedal and brake all at once. Once they have mastered riding the balance bikes it gives them the confidence to then switch to riding conventional machines with pedals, brakes and gears.
The scheme – which started in June – involves children, and their parent or parents, attending three Saturday morning lessons on consecutive weekends. The first scheme has been completed, and a second scheme is due to start in September. “We’re receiving support from the Bikestyle cycle shop in Douglas, which is greatly appreciated. I will also be riding the Manx Telecom End2End Challenge again this year as a way of leading by example and raising awareness of our Fast Track Scheme.”
Who knows, some of the young cyclists who graduate from the scheme may become End2End champions in the future. And even if they don’t, it will set them on the road to having fun on their bikes and using cycling to keep fit and healthy.
The Manx Telecom End2End Mountain Bike Challenge is a 46-mile off-road race from the Point of Ayre to Cregneash which takes place on September 7 this year. There’s still time to enter, but places are filling up fast and the closing date for entries is on August 23. The entry fee is £45 per rider and includes a commemorative tee-shirt. Entry plus transport (from Douglas to the start and from the finish back to Douglas) costs £58. Manx Telecom mobile customers will receive a £5 discount on the entry fee.
The race will also feature a Corporate Sponsored Relay event for teams of four (riders don’t need to work for the same company). The first rider will cycle from the Point of Ayre to Brandywell where they hand over to the second rider who will cycle to St Johns. The third relay checkpoint is at Eary Cushlin with the last rider in each relay team riding from there to the finish in Cregneash. The winners will be the team with fastest combined time for all four riders. There will also be a Corporate Teams competition with four riders in each team each covering the full race distance.
For individual and team entries go to www.manxe2e.org